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  4. 2 – Know the principles of protecting all individuals in a learning environment

2 – Know the principles of protecting all individuals in a learning environment

Protecting all individuals in a learning environment is crucial for ensuring all educational community members’ safety, well-being, and rights. This includes students, staff, and visitors. It involves understanding and implementing best practices and guidelines to prevent harm, abuse, discrimination, and harassment. It also requires being aware of and adhering to legal and regulatory requirements and having policies and procedures in place to address and respond to any incidents that may occur. This topic is essential for creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for everyone.

Potential safeguarding issues inside and outside of the learning environment

Safeguarding issues can occur both inside and outside of the learning environment. It is important for educators and other staff to be aware of potential issues and to have procedures in place to address them. Inside the learning environment, potential issues may include bullying, harassment, discrimination, or abuse by students or staff. Outside of the learning environment, potential issues may include abuse or neglect of students in their homes or community or the involvement of students in criminal or extremist activities. This section will explore the potential safeguarding issues that may arise and discuss strategies for addressing and preventing them from creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all individuals.

IssueInside the learning environmentOutside the learning environment
Social ExclusionStudents may be excluded from activities or groups by their peersStudents may be excluded from activities or groups in their community based on their race, religion, or socioeconomic status
CyberbullyingStudents may be bullied through social media or online platformsStudents may be bullied through social media or online platforms outside of school
BullyingStudents may be bullied by their peers or staffAdults or peers in their community may bully students
HarassmentStudents or staff may experience harassment based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.Students or staff may experience harassment in their community based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.
AbuseStudents or staff may experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by other students or staff.Students may experience abuse or neglect in their homes or community
NeglectStudents may not have their basic needs met, such as food or medical careStudents may not have their basic needs met in their homes or community
RadicalisationStudents may be exposed to extremist ideologies or recruited by extremist groups.Students may be exposed to extremist ideologies or recruited by extremist groups outside the school.
GroomingPredators of sexual exploitation may target studentsStudents may be targeted by predators for sexual exploitation outside of school
Poor mental healthStudents may experience poor mental health due to bullying, harassment, or other issues in the learning environment.Students may experience poor mental health due to home or community issues.

Note: This table is an overview and not all the detail, it’s important to note that each issue may have different characteristics, and the table is not an exhaustive list. It’s important to have a robust policy and procedures covering all forms of abuse and exploitation.

The responsibilities of individuals in the safeguarding of people under their care in an educational setting

Several individuals are responsible for safeguarding the people under their care in an educational setting. This includes educators, administrators, support staff, and other educational community members. These individuals have a legal and ethical duty to protect the welfare and rights of students, staff, and visitors and to prevent harm, abuse, discrimination, and harassment.

Advising vulnerable individuals of disclosure to Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

When working with vulnerable individuals, it is important to advise them of the possibility of disclosing information to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). The DSL is responsible for overseeing and coordinating safeguarding efforts within the educational setting, and they play a key role in identifying, responding to, and reporting safeguarding issues.

When working with vulnerable individuals, it is important to explain to them the role of the DSL and what information they may need to share with them. It’s important to be sensitive when discussing this and to explain that the DSL is there to help them and that they are not in trouble.

The DSL should be made aware of any concerns regarding vulnerable individuals, and any information shared should be done with the individual’s consent and understanding. It is important to remember that the individual’s rights and well-being must be respected at all times and that it is their choice whether or not to share information with the DSL.

It is also important to have clear procedures for reporting concerns to the DSL and to ensure that all staff members know these procedures and understand their responsibilities. This will help to ensure that any issues are identified and addressed as quickly as possible and that vulnerable individuals receive the support and protection they need.

Taking action for emerging safeguarding issues

When a safeguarding issue is disclosed, it is important to take action immediately to protect the individual and others at risk. The first step is to inform the individual of the process that will take place and to reassure them that their concerns will be taken seriously and that appropriate action will be taken.

It is important to listen to the individual and to take detailed notes of what they have disclosed. It is important to be sensitive and to avoid questioning the individual excessively, as this may traumatise them.

The next step is to inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) of the issue and to provide them with the information that has been disclosed. The DSL will then determine the appropriate course of action, including reporting the issue to the appropriate authorities and/or providing support and resources to the individual.

It is important to inform the individual of any steps that will be taken and to keep them informed of any developments. It is also important to reassure the individual that their safety and well-being are a priority and that appropriate action will be taken to protect them and others at risk.

Following the school or organisation’s safeguarding policies and procedures and legal requirements is also important. It’s also important to ensure that all staff members know these procedures and understand their responsibilities. This will help to ensure that any issues are identified and addressed as quickly as possible and that vulnerable individuals receive the support and protection they need.

Supporting the assessment of an individual’s needs

Supporting the assessment of an individual’s needs is an important part of safeguarding in an educational setting. When an individual has disclosed a safeguarding issue or when concerns have been raised about their welfare, it is important to assess their needs to determine the appropriate course of action.

The assessment process typically involves gathering information from various sources, such as the individual, their family, and other professionals working with them. This information is used to identify any risks or vulnerabilities and determine the support and resources the individual may require.

It is important to involve the individual in the assessment process, as they are best placed to understand their own needs. It is also important to involve the individual’s family and other relevant professionals, as they may be able to provide valuable information and support.

It is important to take a holistic approach when assessing an individual’s needs, considering the physical, emotional, social, and educational aspects of their life. This will help to ensure that all relevant issues are considered and that the individual receives the appropriate support and resources.

Assessment should be regularly reviewed, and any changes should be made accordingly. It is important to work closely with other professionals and agencies to ensure that the individual’s needs are as appropriate and effective as possible.

Promoting a learner-centred approach

Promoting a learner-centred approach is essential for ensuring that the needs and well-being of the individual are at the forefront of decision-making in an educational setting. This approach involves placing the learner at the centre of their learning experience and ensuring that their needs are met in a way that is appropriate for them.

One key aspect of a learner-centred approach believes what the individual says until proven otherwise. When an individual makes a disclosure or raises a concern, it is important to take them seriously and assume that they are telling the truth. It’s important to be aware that some individuals may not disclose the full extent of what has happened or may be reluctant to disclose it.

It is also important to ensure that the learner knows where to seek support and is aware of the different options available to them. This includes providing information about internal and external support services and ensuring that the individual knows how to access them.

Assuming an attitude of ‘it could happen here.’

Assuming an attitude of “it could happen here” is an important mindset for individuals working in an educational setting. This means recognising that safeguarding issues, such as abuse, neglect, discrimination, and harassment, can happen anywhere. It is important to be vigilant and proactive in identifying and responding to these issues.

This mindset involves being aware of the warning signs of abuse and neglect and being prepared to act when concerns are raised. It also means creating a culture in which individuals feel comfortable reporting concerns and in which reporting is encouraged and supported.

Assuming an attitude of “it could happen here” means being proactive in creating a safe and inclusive learning environment. This involves implementing policies and procedures that promote safety and providing regular training and support to all educational community members.

It also means ensuring that everyone is aware of their responsibilities regarding safeguarding and that they have the knowledge, skills, and resources to fulfil these responsibilities. This includes providing information about internal and external support services and ensuring that individuals know how to access them.

By assuming an attitude of “it could happen here,” individuals working in an educational setting can create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students, staff, and visitors. This mindset is essential for ensuring everyone is aware of the risks and prepared to respond effectively when concerns are raised.

Following the systems in own organisation

Following the systems in own organisation that support safeguarding is essential to ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals in an educational setting. These systems include policies, procedures, and guidelines that guide identifying, reporting, and responding to safeguarding issues.

The child protection policy is a key document that sets out the organisation’s approach to safeguarding and child protection. It includes details on how to identify and respond to concerns about abuse and neglect, as well as information about reporting procedures and the roles and responsibilities of staff.

The internet use policy, staff behaviour policy or code of conduct, and referral policy guide how to ensure that the use of technology and the behaviour of staff members are safe and appropriate. The bullying policy sets out the organisation’s approach to preventing and addressing bullying. In contrast, the equality and diversity policy provides guidance on how to promote equality and diversity within the organisation.

All staff members must be familiar with these policies and understand their responsibilities under them. Regular training and support should be provided to ensure that staff members have the knowledge, skills and resources to fulfil their responsibilities and to respond effectively to any concerns that may arise.

By following these systems, individuals working in an educational setting can create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students, staff, and visitors. This also ensures that everyone is aware of the risks and is prepared to respond effectively when concerns are raised. These systems are followed to ensure that the organisation is adhering to legal requirements and best practices in safeguarding.

Supporting and sharing information with the DSL

Supporting and sharing information with the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and other professionals is an important part of ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in an educational setting. Early identification and assessment of vulnerable individuals can help ensure they receive the support and resources they need as quickly as possible.

When an individual is identified as vulnerable, it is important to share information with the DSL and other professionals to support their assessment and to determine the appropriate course of action. This information should include details about the individual’s needs, risks or vulnerabilities, and support and resources they may require.

It is important to involve the individual in the assessment process, their family, and other relevant professionals. This will help to ensure that all relevant information is considered and that the individual receives the appropriate support and resources.

When sharing information with the DSL and other professionals, it is important to follow the organisation’s policies, procedures, and legal requirements, such as data protection laws. It is also important to ensure that the individual’s confidentiality is always maintained.

By supporting and sharing information with the DSL and other professionals, individuals working in an educational setting can help to ensure that vulnerable individuals receive the support and resources they need as quickly as possible. This will help promote the safety and well-being of all individuals in the organisation and support early identification of potential issues.

Recognising potential safeguarding issues

Recognising potential safeguarding issues is an important part of ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in an educational setting. Safeguarding issues include, but are not limited to, abuse, neglect, discrimination, harassment, bullying, and radicalisation.

Recognising potential safeguarding issues involves being aware of the warning signs and being prepared to act when concerns are raised. Some of the signs that may indicate a safeguarding issue include changes in behaviour or mood, physical injuries, changes in appearance, and reluctance to attend school or participate in activities.

It is also important to be aware of the different types of abuse and neglect and the associated warning signs. For example, physical abuse may include bruises, burns, or broken bones, while emotional abuse may include isolation, verbal abuse, or threats. Neglect may include signs of malnutrition, poor hygiene, or lack of appropriate medical care.

It is also important to recognise the signs of radicalisation, such as a sudden change in behaviour or appearance, increased secrecy, and adopting extremist views.

Recognising potential safeguarding issues also involves being aware of the different forms of discrimination and harassment, such as racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment.

By recognising potential safeguarding issues, individuals working in an educational setting can take the necessary steps to protect the individuals in their care and address any issues that may arise. This includes reporting concerns to the appropriate authorities, providing support and resources, and preventing future occurrences.

Promoting the welfare of individuals at risk

Promoting the welfare of individuals at risk and a safe environment within which to learn is an essential part of ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in an educational setting.

One way to promote the welfare of at-risk individuals is by boosting their self-esteem and self-reliance. This can be done by providing opportunities for learners to take on responsibilities and make decisions, giving them positive feedback and recognition for their efforts, and helping them to develop their skills and talents.

Creating safe spaces for learners to seek support from a mentor or other trusted adult is also important. This can be done by providing a confidential and non-judgmental environment where learners can talk about their concerns and receive guidance and support. This can be done through mentoring programs, counselling, or other support services.

Another way to promote a safe environment is by providing regular education and training on different topics such as Child Protection, Bullying, Harassment, etc. This will help learners, staff, and other community members to be aware of the issues that may arise and how to deal with them.

The organisation needs to have clear policies and procedures to identify and respond to safeguarding concerns and ensure that all community members know these policies and how to report concerns.

By promoting the welfare of individuals at risk and a safe environment within which to learn, individuals working in an educational setting can help ensure that all learners are safe and well-supported and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Ensuring visitors are suitably supervised

Ensuring visitors are suitably supervised is important to safeguarding a learning environment. Visitors, such as parents, volunteers, and contractors, may have access to vulnerable individuals. Therefore, it is important to ensure that they are supervised and that proper measures are in place to protect the safety and well-being of learners.

One way to ensure visitors are suitably supervised is by having a clear visitor policy that outlines the procedures for managing visitors, such as pre-registration, signing in and out, and obtaining identification.

Another way to ensure visitors are suitably supervised is by providing clear guidance and expectations for behaviour. This can include guidelines on appropriate language and conduct and information on what to do if a visitor has concerns or observes something they deem to be a safeguarding concern.

It is also important to ensure that visitors are not left alone with learners or staff members and that they are supervised at all times. This can be done by assigning a staff member or volunteer to accompany the visitor during their visit and ensuring that they understand the importance of their role in maintaining the safety and well-being of all learners.

It is also important to conduct background checks on all visitors who are likely to have contact with learners, such as volunteers and contractors, to ensure they do not pose a risk to the safety and well-being of learners.

By ensuring visitors are suitably supervised, individuals working in an educational setting can help to ensure that all learners are safe and that proper measures are in place to protect their welfare.

Undertaking staff safeguarding training and continuous professional development (CPD)

Undertaking staff safeguarding training and continuous professional development (CPD) is an essential aspect of ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in an educational setting. Staff trained in safeguarding are better equipped to identify and respond to potential safeguarding concerns, which can help protect the welfare of all learners.

Safeguarding training should cover various topics such as child protection, identifying and reporting abuse, managing risks and concerns, and understanding relevant legislation and policies. This can be done through regular in-house training sessions or by sending staff on external training courses.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is also important for keeping staff up-to-date with the latest best practices and legislation related to safeguarding. This can include regular refresher training, attending conferences or workshops, and participating in online training courses.

It’s also important to keep a record of the training and CPD of all staff members, including volunteers, and to ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest training and knowledge.

By undertaking staff safeguarding training and continuous professional development, individuals working in an educational setting can help to ensure that all learners are safe and well-protected. This will also help the organisation meet legal requirements related to safeguarding and provide the best possible care for learners.

Where to seek support in situations that are beyond own experience and expertise

In situations where individuals working in an educational setting may be dealing with a situation beyond their experience and expertise, it is important to know where to seek support. This can help ensure that the individual receives the appropriate care and support and that any potential safeguarding concerns are addressed promptly and appropriately.

ResourceDescription
Line manager/supervisorA line manager or supervisor can provide advice and guidance if an individual is unsure about which appropriate action to take in a particular situation. They can also provide support after an individual has heard a disclosure.
Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)The DSL is responsible for overseeing the safeguarding of individuals and can provide guidance, support, and advice on how to report a disclosure.
Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)The LADO can provide guidance and advice on how to report an action if an individual is not satisfied with the response of their institution or the DSL.
Police Liaison Officer (PLO)The PLO can provide guidance and advice on how to report a disclosure if individuals fear for the immediate physical welfare of the individual, their family or associates or if they are not satisfied with their institution’s response.
Childline or NSPCCThese organisations offer confidential advice and support for children and young people at risk of harm or neglect.
Adult Social CareAdult social care can provide advice and support for adults at risk of harm or neglect.
Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)The LSCB can provide guidance and advice on child protection procedures and policies.
Local Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB)The LSAB can provide guidance and advice on adult protection procedures and policies.
Professional bodiesProfessional bodies such as the General Teaching Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council or the Health and Care Professions Council can provide guidance and advice on professional conduct and practice.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)An EAP can provide support and guidance for staff experiencing personal or professional difficulties.

It’s important to note that each organisation or resource may have different procedures and protocols to follow. Still, they all share the same goal: to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals in a learning environment.

Different types of harm, abuse and neglect

When discussing safeguarding in a learning environment, it’s important to understand the different types of harm, abuse, and neglect that individuals may be vulnerable to. These types of harm can take many forms and occur in different settings, including inside and outside the learning environment. It’s important for individuals working in an educational setting to be aware of these different types of harm and to know how to identify and respond to them.

HarmAbuseNeglect
Exploiting vulnerability (making dismissive comments, deliberate antagonism)Physical (assault, intimidation, shaking, restraint, poisoning, burning, neglect)Lack of food, medication or personal care
Restricting or removing opportunities for social, intellectual or emotional growthCulture-based violence (Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Forced Marriage, (Dis)Honour Based Violence (HBV))Self-neglect
RadicalisationEmotional or psychological (threat of harm, isolation, humiliation, harassing individuals, cyber-bullying)Acts of omission: not informing individuals of their rights or the services available
The organisational culture of non-compliance with legislation, policy or procedureSexual (indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, exposure to pornography, online sexual activity, grooming, sexual activity or intercourse with a child, non-consensual sexual activity or intercourse)
Financial (theft of property, coerced into spending)

It’s important to note that these are not exhaustive lists and that many types of harm, abuse, and neglect overlap. It is also important to note that some types of harm and abuse may be specific to certain cultural backgrounds and communities. It is important to be aware of these types of abuse and harm and to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms, to be able to report them and support the victims.

Factors that may make someone more vulnerable to harm or abuse

When discussing safeguarding in a learning environment, it’s important to understand the factors that may make someone more vulnerable to harm or abuse. These factors can include a range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that can make an individual more susceptible to harm or abuse. It’s important for individuals working in an educational setting to be aware of these factors and to know how to identify and respond to them.

Some of the factors that may make someone more vulnerable to harm or abuse include:

  1. Learning disabilities (mild, moderate or severe): Individuals with learning disabilities may struggle with communication, understanding or processing information, making them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  2. Physical and/or medical disability: Individuals with physical or medical disabilities may have difficulty with mobility, communication, or self-care, making them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  3. Mental health issues: Individuals with mental health issues may struggle with self-esteem, self-worth, or difficulty with communication or understanding, which can make them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  4. Socioeconomic status: Individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may have less access to resources, support, or education, making them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  5. LGBTQ+ status: Individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ may face discrimination or marginalisation, making them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  6. Age: Children and older adults may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse due to physical or mental limitations or because they may depend more on others for care.
  7. Language barriers or communication difficulties: Individuals who have difficulty communicating or understanding due to language barriers may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  8. Cultural and/or religious differences: Individuals from different cultural or religious backgrounds may face discrimination or marginalisation, making them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  9. Being a member of a minority or marginalised group: Individuals who belong to minority or marginalised groups may face discrimination or marginalisation, which can make them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  10. Recent migration or being an asylum seeker: Individuals who have recently migrated or are seeking asylum may be in a state of uncertainty, which can make them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  11. Being in care or having a history of being in care: Individuals who have been in care or have a history of being in care may have a history of abuse or neglect, which can make them more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  12. Being in a dependent or unequal relationship: Individuals in dependent or unequal relationships may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  13. Substance abuse or addiction: Individuals who abuse substances or are addicted may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  14. Isolation or lack of support from family or community: Individuals who are isolated or lack support from family or community may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  15. Previous experiences of abuse or trauma: Individuals who have experienced abuse or trauma in the past may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  16. Low self-esteem or self-worth: Individuals with low self-esteem or self-worth may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.
  17. Being in a position of powerlessness or dependence: Individuals in powerlessness or dependence may be more vulnerable to harm or abuse.

Common features of perpetrator behaviour and grooming

This section will explore the common features of perpetrator behaviour and grooming in a learning environment. Perpetrators of abuse and harm often use specific tactics to gain trust and access to potential victims. They may manipulate and exploit vulnerabilities, use coercion and deception, and have a history of offending. Grooming is a process used by perpetrators to prepare a child or vulnerable adult for abuse, often through building trust and a manipulative relationship. This section will provide insight into the typical patterns of perpetrator behaviour and grooming techniques to help recognise and prevent abuse in a learning environment.

Perpetrator BehaviourGrooming Behaviour
Behaviour patterns (aggression, unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions, controlling the behaviour or finances of others and coercion)Deliberately engineering opportunities to isolate or remove vulnerable individuals from a group to a more secluded environment
Behaviour characteristics (criticising, humiliating language, being violent or aggressive, isolating the subject of abuse or restricting contact with friends, family or health and social support services)Showing a particular interest in a specific individual beyond the duties of the job role
Manipulative behaviour (gaining trust by offering gifts or special favours, using charm or charisma to build a relationship, using power or authority to control or exploit the victim)Visiting a vulnerable individual socially outside of the remit of the job role
History of offending (previous convictions or accusations of abuse or harm)Gaining the trust of the victim and their family
Building a relationship based on secrecy and manipulation
Using technology or social media to control or manipulate the victim
Offering gifts or special favours to gain the trust of the victim
Using charm or charisma to build a relationship
Using power or authority to control or exploit the victim
Breaking down the victim’s defences by gradually exposing them to more inappropriate behaviour or situations
Making the victim feel responsible for keeping the relationship secret

Types of behaviour patterns that may be displayed by current and historical victims of harm, abuse or neglect

When someone has experienced harm, abuse, or neglect, they may display certain behaviour patterns as a result. These can include:

BehaviourDetail
Personality changesThis can include changes in mood, attitude, or demeanour. This can manifest as sudden outbursts of anger, depression, or anxiety. It can also include a personality change, such as becoming more withdrawn or isolated.
Age-inappropriate actionsThis includes a person engaging in behaviour not typical for their age or developmental stage. This can include acting out sexually, becoming aggressive, or regressing to younger behaviours.
Changes to routineThis can include changes in sleeping patterns, eating habits, personal hygiene, or social activities. This can also include changes in school or work performance.
Financial, social or emotionally restricted behavioursThis can include becoming more isolated, withdrawing from social activities, or experiencing financial difficulties. It can also include becoming more dependent on others for support or emotionally detached.
Changes in behaviour in the presence of the perpetratorThis can include becoming more anxious, withdrawn, or submissive when around the perpetrator. This can also include the person becoming more defensive or aggressive in the perpetrator’s presence.
Self-harmThis can include the person engaging in self-destructive behaviours such as cutting, burning, or taking drugs.
Suicidal thoughts and languageThis can include the person expressing suicidal thoughts or making suicidal statements. This can also include the person expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.

It’s important to note that some or all of these behaviours may not always be displayed by a current or historical victim of harm, abuse or neglect and that there may be other reasons for these behaviours. But it is important to be aware of these patterns so that they can be offered the appropriate support if someone is displaying them.

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